Nashville Plow Works

Cavalry Officer's Sword


Description and Photograph




    The Nashville Plow Works, operated by Messrs. Sharp and Hamilton, produced farm implements prior to the War.  With the coming of the War, the proprietors rightly guessed that farm equipment would not be selling in the near future and converted their shop to the production of swords, taking the Biblical injunction "melt your plowshares into swords...." (Joel 3:10) quite literally.  The Nashville Plow Works continued operation until Union forces took Nashville on April 1, 1862.  At this time, the proprietors of the firm were charged with treason and arrested, thus effectively ending the firm's existence.
     The number of sabers produced by the Nashville Plow Works is unknown.  However, based on the number of pieces that still exist, it can be surmised that Sharp & Hamilton turned out a relatively large quantity of cavalry officer’s swords before they were captured by Union troops.  These weapons are distinct in character, having the firm's name and "CSA" cast in their brass guards.

     The example shown here is a very good example of the company’s work.  The Nashville Plow Works name is exceptionally clear.  The sword's hilt is tight; the grip retains the entire original leather wrap and all of the original twisted brass wire wrap.  There was a major flaw cast into the quillon, but it was used this way and it is not weak.  The blade is extremely nice, without a single chip or nick.  It remains bright but for the carbon staining caused by the low grade steel/iron.  The tip has been slightly ground to sharpen the point, but the carbon staining remains consistent across this area, meaning it was done during its time of service.

     The sword’s original brass mounted scabbard has the brass throat and brass drag.  The scabbard for these swords are distinctive, and since nearly half of the value of a Confederate sword rests with it having its original and correct scabbard this is very important.  One ring is probably a replacement, as these scabbards had unusually small rings, and in this example the upper ring is larger than would be expected.  When this was done I cannot tell.  There are two other unusual features that are all important when examining a Nashville scabbard.  The seam should be brazed rather than soldered, and the drag should be beveled.  All is correct with this scabbard with the exception of the ring noted above.  The scabbard does not have a single ding and retains nearly all of its original black japan.

     I speculate that this was among the last produced at the Plow Works because of two things: one, the extreme flaw in the quillon and that the drag has been put on upside down, yet it was still put into service.  

     This is a well above average example of a Nashville Plow Works cavalry officer’s sword.  




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